In honor of Love month, let me take you to the City of Love, Paris.
Why is Paris on many people's travel bucket lists and is among most girls' dream destinations? Paris is known as the City of Love and the City of Lights. It has the romantic vibes, charm, and energy of a city that never sleeps. It is famous for its classical museums, art galleries, and was home to many of the well-known writers and artists of all time. The moniker, City of Lights, was borne out of Paris being at the center of the Age of Enlightenment (enlightened minds) in the 18th century. In the late 19th century, it became one of the first European cities to install gas streetlights, furthering the acceptance of the City of Lights designation. Today, the city is magnificent at night when its landmarks, architecture, and monuments are stunningly lighted and shining. Paris still attracts artists, writers, and book lovers (as I am). And lest we forget, Paris still earns the title of the world's fashion capital.
Wine is a way of life in France. They produce quality wines that are known all over the world including some are the wines we enjoy on planes. French cuisine is recognized among the best in the world attracting foodies. In addition, France, especially Paris, has a strong coffee culture. Sitting in a café, sipping coffee, eating croissants, and watching Parisians and tourists go by – are my favorite things to do!
To make the most of your visit to Paris, especially if you only have a weekend to travel, the hop-on-hop-off tour is a great way to see the city's highlights. (I usually do this when I travel alone.) Otherwise, you can explore the city on foot and experience some of the best attractions.
Here are a few of my favorite tourist attractions in Paris and some advice:
Eiffel Tower. When visiting the Eiffel Tower, especially for a romantic getaway, it is great to be there late afternoon and stay until the sun sets. Watching the sunset overlooking the Paris skyline is a special treat that creates passionate energy. The elevator takes you to all levels within the Eiffel Tower, but if you have the energy and want a unique experience, you can use the staircase of more than 300 steps that will take you to the first level, and another 300+ steps to the second level. Both levels have similar gift shops, cafeterias, and outdoor terraces. However, the second level has a fine dining restaurant with a better view of the Paris landmarks. So, if you're planning to experience fine dining with your date, make a reservation ahead of time. The top is accessible only by elevator.
Louvre Museum. This is the largest museum in the world and the former home to several kings of France. Some of the world's most prestigious art collections, are on display here. The famed Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci has its dedicated guards and the work is protected by bulletproof glass. Seeing the painting with her captivating and mysterious smile was by far my best art experience. The Louvre Museum is so vast that it's only possible to see some parts of the museum in one visit. Making the most of your time by joining a group tour is a good idea allowing you to skip the entrance lines and go straight to the must-see artworks.
Avenue des Champs-Élysées. Once the famed meeting point for politicians and intellectuals, the avenue is now one of the most well-known streets in the world. It is home to several luxury brands and prestigious establishments and is a spot for cultural activities. If you have a sweet tooth, stop by Maison Ladurée, famous for its macarons. There are many fine-dining restaurants on this avenue, but you can also choose affordable ones. You can shop until you drop or just window shop.
Arc de Triomphe. At the western end of the Champs-Élysées, the monument is a massive, 50-meter-high arch dedicated to the soldiers of the French Revolution and the First Empire. The names of all the French victories and their generals are inscribed on the inner and outer surfaces of the Arc. There's a viewing platform at the top accessible by elevator where you can enjoy a panoramic view of the city. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is at the foot of the Arc. A ceremony takes place every evening to honor the unknown soldiers. A guided tour with a multimedia presentation is available if you want to learn more about French history. I think it's worth your money.
Sainte-Chapelle. This 13th-century chapel is considered one of the most exquisite churches in Paris. The chapel is renowned for its stained-glass windows and is regarded as one of the most extensive stained glasses in the world. Sainte-Chapelle is open to the public but is used for church service only on rare occasions. It is recommended to visit the chapel in the morning to witness these exquisite windows in their most brilliant light. There is an audio guide available so visitors can listen and appreciate the chapel's history, art, and architecture.
Jardin du Luxembourg. This 23-hectare (56.8 acres) park has beautiful lawns, tree-lined promenades, and flowerbeds. At the center of the park is the Medici Fountain with chairs placed around the fountain. Stay here for an hour or two to experience the quieter ambiance of Paris. The garden contains hundreds of statues, fountains, and monuments. There's a restaurant where tourists can dine and enjoy the romantic outdoor atmosphere beneath the trees with a glass of wine. The park is also a local favorite for picnics and recreational activities, including a model boat pond for children. In addition, you can find here the Theatre des Marionnettes, the largest puppet theater in France.
Pont des Arts. This pedestrian bridge that crosses the Seine River was built in 1984 and it well known as the Love Lock Bridge. In 2008, the romantic gesture of lovers attaching their love locks and throwing the key in the Seine River became a tradition. Unfortunately, it became overwhelming and created a serious safety concern and damage to the bridge's structure. Eventually, part of the bridge collapsed, and the government removed all the love locks. They launched a campaign called Love Without Locks, encouraging tourists to take selfies instead of leaving love locks. There are no more love locks on the bridge, but the keys remain at the bottom the river, which I think is still symbolic of profound love. This iconic bridge remains a favorite spot for photographers and a romantic place for lovers. The best time to visit Pont de Arts is as the sun sets showing stunning colors upon the Seine River.
There you go – an itinerary if you're planning a quick trip to extend your love affair with Paris or perhaps with your special someone – from the Eiffel Tower to the Pont des Arts. So, pack your luggage and hop on the plane for a weekend getaway to Paris. (However, if you have a week to spare, here's a good site to examine the 10 Most Romantic Places in Paris.)
I love Paris, not only because of it is among my most favorite places and the things there are to do here, but because the French enjoy their lives with cheer! My favorite French phrase sums it up – Joie de Vivre. According to Wikipedia, it means “cheerful enjoyment of life, exultation of spirit. It can be a joy of conversation, joy of eating, joy of anything one might do. It may be seen as a joy of everything, a comprehensive joy, a philosophy of life.”
My best advice is to enjoy your life as French people do. Have a safe flight, and I will see you in Paris.